As the winter months drag on in Madison, many of us fight to stay out of reach from Seasonal Affective Disorder. This year, look no further than Denmark for help in battling the winter blues. Ok, that’s pretty far.

But Denmark has a secret weapon.

That is in the form of a cultural mindset called hygge (pronounced hue-guh)

No, I didn’t just sneeze.

Every year Denmark is ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. Despite having some of the bleakest winters. Summers in Denmark are lovely, but winters are long, cold, and dark. And yet, the citizens of their country remain universally joyful.

Hygge is a cultural appreciation for all things cozy. It’s a lifestyle that inspires a feeling of contentment and well being and is a defining characteristic of Danish culture.

Natives incorporate hygge into their homes, offices, and their relationships. It has a marked impact.

The Hygge House describes, “You can experience hygge alone or with friends. Ordinary or extraordinary, it’s always cozy, charming, or special.”

It helps inspire joy and contentment on short, dreary winter days. Here are some simple ways to incorporate hygge into your home this season.

A Crackling Fireplace

Too many fireplaces in American homes remain decorative only. Put that gorgeous statement piece to use! Whether you have a gas or wood-burning hearth, give it a good sweeping and fire her up (no pun intended)! If your home doesn’t have a fireplace, look into options like the clean-burning, Flickr tabletop fireplace. Use the soothing crackle and hypnotizing flames to help you decompress from a long day’s work. Gather up your family and watch your favorite movie together.

A Steaming Cup of Hot Tea

Put the kettle on. If coffee is more your thing, that works too! Whatever your favorite hot beverage is, indulge in the ritual of preparing it. There is no way to chug a hot drink. They must be sipped and enjoyed slowly. Wrap your hands around the mug, feel the warmth spread through you as you experience your favorite nook in your home. A hot drink can even affect your warmth of character. A study conducted by the University of Colorado, Boulder, found that participants holding hot drinks (versus something like an iced coffee) were perceived as having “warmer personalities.” Scientists hypothesize that it has something to do with the warmth of nourishment as a child. A need for warmth is in our biology! A warm beverage brings this out.

Candlelit Dinners

Why save this for romantic occasions? Set the table and light a few candlesticks nightly. You may find that you’ll savor your food more slowly and linger over conversations a little longer.

Quality Time with Friends and Family

Unfortunately, this hygge bullet point is proving to be much harder these days. But just like there is no one correct way to practice hygge, there is no “right way” to foster connections. A phone call can be as enriching as a long, rambling dinner party. Investing in friendships and turning friends into a community of support is healing. Although real estate is a household’s highest-dollar asset, friends, family, and community are our most important assets.

Spending Time in Nature

As winter continues, it becomes increasingly hard to find motivation for outdoor activities. But fresh air (even in small doses) can do wonders for the spirit!  If you have the capacity for a walk in the woods, all the better! But a short walk around your neighborhood will do just fine too – even if the result is merely to be even more appreciative of your warm couch afterward.

Bring Nature Indoors

Bringing plants into the home is valuable too. A fresh bouquet on the table breathes life into the home. If you have a green thumb, indoor houseplants are a great colorful addition to bland winter months. There are plenty of house plants perfect for families who don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to TLC.  

Fuzzy Socks and Sweaters

Have you ever bought a beautiful sweater and discovered soon after that it’s uncontrollably scratchy? Scratchy sweaters are not hygge! They simply will not do! Your favorite sweatshirt? Slipper socks? Very hygge. Smartwool and Darn Tough brands are excellent choices for ultra-warm, super cozy socks. Sweaters are dealers’ choice. You can’t go wrong with a big, oversized blanket sweater.  

Enjoy Seasonal Activities

Find fun activities that will help you look forward to winter. Go sledding, ice skating, or skiing. Indulge in some good old fashioned fun! Pick out a favorite board game and get a little competitive with your family. If you get into it, you can even host a virtual tournament with your friends or family far away.

Big, Soft Blankets

Drape them around your furniture! Get a big basket and pile them all in! Make them available at every turn.  Maybe even if you’re brave enough, a snuggie?

Indirect Lighting

Don’t even touch the overhead lights this winter! Turn on a few lamps and buy some candles. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Small tea lights will do. Group the candles in sets of 3-5 so that they cast more light into your living space.

Leave Work at 5:00

I know, I know. Crazy, right? But the Danish don’t share our admiration for the 60-hour workweek. They leave work every day promptly at 4:00 pm. They are a country that has proven that work-life balance is super important.


It’s impossible to live a hygge life while staying attached to your phone or computer. Turn off your notifications after a particular time of day. Disable your social media accounts on the weekends. Or maybe put your phone in a different room after 6:00 pm.

Ultimately, hygge is about taking the time to incorporate simple pleasures into your daily life. We can all benefit from a little more hygge in our lives, through both the darkest and the brightest seasons. If what we read about Denmark is correct, you may even live a happier life because of it.

We wish you a very “hygge” winter season from all of us here at The Hub Realty.